One reason that how you think about stress matters is because it changes how you respond to stress. Viewing stress as harmful leads people to cope in ways that are less helpful, whether it’s getting drunk to “release” stress, procrastinating to avoid stress, or imagining worst-case scenarios. One study found that simply having the goal to avoid stress increased the long-term risk of outcomes like depression, divorce and getting fired, by increasing people’s reliance on harmful coping strategies.
In contrast, viewing stress more positively seems to encourage people to cope in ways that help them thrive, whether it’s tackling the source of stress, seeking social support or finding meaning in it. So bring it on! Embrace it!